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Trial of four men accused of falsely imprisoning Kevin Lunney may not go ahead in January

The defendants have brought High Court challenges against the Special Criminal Court’s jurisdiction to try the matter.

THE TRIAL OF four men accused of falsely imprisoning and assaulting Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director Kevin Lunney may not go ahead in January due to High Court challenges being brought by the defendants against the Special Criminal Court’s jurisdiction to try the matter, the non-jury court has heard.

One of the accused men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, brought judicial review proceedings before the High Court last August challenging the decision to try him before the three-judge court and he was granted permission on an ex-parte (one side only) basis to bring his challenge. The Special Criminal Court heard today that the three other defendants have adopted the same position as their co-accused.

Luke O’Reilly (66), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan; Darren Redmond (25), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3; Alan O’Brien (39), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and the fourth accused are all charged with false imprisonment and assault causing serious harm to Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on 17 September 2019.

Mr Lunney (50), a father of six, was abducted close to his home in Co Fermanagh on the evening of 17 September. The businessman’s leg was broken, he was doused in bleach and the letters QIH were carved into his chest during the two-and-a-half-hour ordeal before he was dumped on a roadside in Co Cavan.

The four defendants were sent forward for trial before the Special Criminal Court last March and the non-jury court has fixed 11 January 2021 as their trial date. It is expected to last 12 weeks.

Justice Tony Hunt presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh, said this morning that he was aware from newspaper reports that High Court orders had been made in some of the accused men’s cases but not all and he was relying on counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to update him.

Counsel for the DPP, Garret Baker BL, said that the fourth accused man and O’Brien had instituted judicial review proceedings. The fourth accused man was granted leave to apply for judicial review but O’Brien’s case had not reached that stage and he awaited the outcome of his co-accused’s challenge, said Baker. Correspondence from O’Reilly and Redmond outlined that they were adopting the same position, added the barrister.

Counsel for the fourth accused, Michael O’Higgins SC, claimed in the High Court last August that the DPP’s decision not to try his client before a jury represented a significant curtailment of his Constitutional rights.

At the brief hearing this morning, Baker said that he had spoken to Counsel for the State in the judicial review proceedings, Remy Farrell SC, and was told that the fourth accused’s case was listed for mention in the High Court tomorrow. “Mr Farrell is optimistic that the matter could be listed soon in the High Court and judicial review proceedings would take no more than a day and an early hearing date would be facilitated,” pointed out Baker, adding that he would be loath to lose the trial date set for January 2021 at this stage.

Justice Hunt noted that even if the State won the case there would still be appeals lodged by the four men and said it might be worth “backing-up” the 12-week trial in January.

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O’Higgins told the non-jury court that he will be bringing an application for an adjournment on other grounds which he said would take some time.

The case was listed for mention before the Special Criminal Court on 16 November, when it is expected that an updated position will be attained.

O’Reilly and Redmond were granted High Court bail last April, despite garda objections. Granting both men bail at the time, Justice Paul Burns said the alleged abduction and assault on Lunney constituted “vicious, cruel and abhorrent” criminal behaviour.

However, the judge said the accused men were presumed innocent and there was an entitlement to bail.

About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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